There are five critical issues captured in this report.
The number of Tasmanians seeking support during March continued to increase from the months of January and February 2021. There were 1,830 Tasmanians recorded as supported. Counselling continued to be the main treatment type accessed, alongside a steady number of Tasmanians receiving information and education during this time (700+).
Alcohol continues to be the primary drug of concern for which people are seeking treatment (854 people). During March, support for cannabis was slightly higher (364 people) than amphetamines (354 people) for the first time since this reporting commenced. However, alcohol is by and far the main drug of concern. Nearly half of all Tasmanians seeking support during March 2021 were seeking assistance with their drinking.
The number of Tasmanians waiting to access counselling and residential rehabilitation services decreased slightly during March alongside a significant increase in the number of people waiting to access information and education programs and services. However, waiting lists remain either stable or have slightly increased during this time. The waiting times for counselling services remains stable at an average of three weeks. The waiting times for residential rehabilitation have increased slightly from 4.5 weeks to 5.5 weeks and the wait to access information and education services remains stable at an average of four weeks.
The impact of COVID-19 on Tasmanians presenting for support continues to be less obvious but is considered to be having an impact on Tasmanians, and a key contributor to the ongoing increase in demand for services. As reported in the February report, there are a range of factors that suggest COVID-19 continues to have an impact. This includes:
a. The feedback from Tasmanians with a lived experience of drug use that provides insights into how COVID-19 continues to impact the manner that services are delivered and / or continues to cause stress and concern and increased drug use.
b. The consistent feedback from specialist treatment organisations regarding concerns with alcohol use, alongside the regular release of academic research confirming above-average alcohol consumption that occurred during COVID-19.
c. The steady increase in Tasmanians seeking support (including the number of calls to telephone AOD help lines), which aligns with the ATDC’s projection that a service bubble would emerge post COVID-19.
The level of employee stress and anxiety being reported as a direct of COVID-19 across community managed organisations continues to decreasing. However, the workforce challenges of responding to increased levels of demand was again a key theme reported in March with two organisations reporting staff resignations due to the demands and pressure on services causing worker stress.
This report is the fifth of eight and captures information for March 2021.